South African born, Perth raised Troye Sivan is 20 years young. Already a YouTube star and a promising actor (he starred in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), the career-hopping role model has released his debut album Blue Neighbourhood and it’s a whirlwind of emotions.
The first three tracks, ‘WILD’, ‘BITE’ and ‘FOOLS’, are from Sivan’s six track EP WILD. These tracks are a fitting start to the album as it delves further into the themes Sivan touched on in the EP.
‘WILD’ refers to Sivan’s time growing up in Perth, his “blue neighbourhood”, and being in love: “Never knew loving could feel this good … You make my heart shake / Bend and break / But I can’t turn away”. The song’s video depicts two young boys who fall in love as they grow up and it’s refreshing to see a gay relationship portrayed in the mainstream with such honesty; sexual diversity should be celebrated.
‘FOOLS’ is the sequel to ‘WILD’, documenting the aftermath of falling madly in love. The track starts with simple piano chords, before Sivan’s soft and sugary vocals: “I am tired of this place / I hope people change”. These are relatable lyrics that undoubtedly invoke emotion in many listeners. Sivan’s life is changing and he is self-criticising. He sees “swimming pools” and “aeroplanes”, he wants it all “but everything is shattering” and it’s his fault. The track has a sense of loss, only enhanced by the sombre piano and shimmering production.
Sivan touches on feeling homesick in ‘EASE’, which features Broods. Broods’ Georgia Nott and Sivan’s voices beautifully intertwine: “But all this driving / Is driving me crazy / And all this moving / Is proving to get the best of me”. The smooth vocals create a chorus that will blissfully wash over you.
‘TALK ME DOWN’ exposes Sivan’s desire to grow close to someone: “I wanna hold hands with you / But that’s all I wanna do right now”.
‘COOL’ is about going out, having a good time and trying to impress someone – but there is emptiness behind these desires.
‘HEAVEN’, featuring Betty Who, is the most heart-wrenching track on the album. Sivan is baring all. The track follows his journey of coming out and questioning if he will be accepted, to self-acceptance: “Trying to keep faith and picture his face / Staring up at me / Without losing a piece of me / How do I get to heaven? … So if I’m losing a piece of me / Maybe I don’t want heaven”. This is a track that speaks to others in similar situations and provides reassurance.
Blue Neighbourhood is an emotionally charged album; electronic production and intricate layers complement emotive vocal melodies. Lyrically, it sounds as if Sivan has been caught thinking out loud whilst immersed in a moment of self-reflection, conveying his talent for storytelling through songwriting. The album offers us a very intimate insight into Sivan’s past and present, yet successfully leaves room for our own interpretation.